TN lawmaker under fire amidst sexual harassment, misconduct allegations

Nashville readers have likely heard about the allegations against Representative Jeremy Durham. Earlier this month, Attorney General Herbert Slatery issued an investigative report detailing the allegations, involving at least twenty two victims of sexual harassment or misconduct over a four year period. The impact of the report has been significant, with lawmakers urging that action be taken against Durham.

Just today, a petition is being sent to members of the Tennessee House of Representatives to request a special session to expel Durham. There will need to be at least sixty six signatures to call a special session. It will be interesting to see what happens with that. At the very least, Durham’s future in politics is going to be a very difficult one, if he is somehow able to continue on. 

Information about the victims is confidential, so we don’t know what steps they are taking to remedy the situation. It is worth noting, though, that just like employees and applicants in the private sector, state and federal employees have the right to be free of sexual harassment in the workplace. According to the Tennessee Department of Human Resources, sexual harassment includes: verbal, written, electronic or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a manager, supervisor, co-worker or non-employee; unwelcome sexual advances; or requests for sexual favors. State employees also have the right to be work in a non-hostile work environment, which can be created by sexual innuendos, touching, inappropriate emails and other similar conduct.

State employees are supposed to go through a specific reporting procedure when they have been subjected to sexual harassment, as well as any retaliation which occurs in connection with such reporting. It doesn’t necessarily require an attorney to do so, but it can help ensure that the employee has guidance in the complaint process and that he or she doesn’t get taken advantage of by supervisors or managers.

In our next post, we’ll talk about reporting sexual harassment as a federal employee.

Sources:

Nashville Scene, “A Week After the Bombshell Durham Report, the Fallout Is Far From Over,” Cari Wade Gervin, July 21, 2016.

Tennessee Department of Human Resources, Workplace Discrimination and Harassment Policy, October 3, 2012. 

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